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January 15, 2013 > Students to start reaping benefits from Race to the Top Grant

Students to start reaping benefits from Race to the Top Grant

Submitted By New Haven Unified School District

Students in the New Haven Unified School District will have only to visit their school's library to start seeing the benefits of the District's successful pursuit of a $29.4 million Race to the Top-District grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Among the many reductions forced upon the District by continuing state budget cuts, staffing was reduced or eliminated at the start of the school year in libraries and media centers at all New Haven schools. While some schools were able to provide various levels of service by using site funds, or because they were the beneficiaries of donations, all schools now will have services restored, as the District receives the initial influx of RTTT-D funds due during the next four-and-a-half years.

New Haven Unified was named in December as one of only 16 recipients nationwide of RTTT-D grants. The District's application was ranked No. 2 in the nation, from a field of 392 original applicants and 61 finalists.

This spring, the District will begin the process of hiring literacy, math and assessment coaches who will provide in-classroom coaching at all schools. They will begin working in the fall to help personalize learning for literacy, math and use of assessments.

The District also will solicit vendors to provide mini-computer tablets for students "to enable us to use today's technology to teach our children," in the words of Superintendent Kari McVeigh, "supplementing traditional methods of instruction and replacing outdated tools."

The mini-tablets - one for every student in the District's middle schools and high schools and one for every two students in kindergarten through fifth grade - will be phased in starting in the fall.

The District also will purchase tablets, laptops and document cameras for all teachers and will hire technology trainers to help staff learn the new equipment, additional support technicians and a data specialist. Most if not all are expected to be classified positions.

Some of the new equipment could be in classrooms before the end of the current school year, Ms. McVeigh said.

The Superintendent also announced that Lisa Metzinger, principal at Kitayama Elementary School, for the past four years, has accepted the District's invitation to oversee grant programs at all schools, pending approval by the Board of Education. Ms. Metzinger has District-wide experience as the former Director of Strategic Planning and Professional Development.

"The Department of Education has been very generous with this grant, but the DOE also is understandably insistent that the money is spent well and properly," Ms. McVeigh said. "Lisa, whose District-wide experience is coupled with her years as an elementary principal, is the perfect choice to oversee our RTTT-D programs and to make sure we deliver what our children need in a manner consistent with what the DOE has to have."

Ms. McVeigh also announced that Tracie Noriega, principal at Alvarado Elementary School, has accepted the District's invitation to serve as Coordinator of Assessment, pending Board of Education approval.

The District will conduct an inclusive process later in the spring to fill the vacant principal positions. Until then, assistant principal Mikey McKelvey will serve as interim principal at Kitayama and Marcus Lam, assistant principal at Hillview Crest Elementary, will serve as interim principal at Alvarado Elementary, again pending Board approval.

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